- Frank Towers
The Missouri Compromise brought Missouri into the Union in 1821 as a slave state but also established a line in federally held territory north of which slavery would be prohibited. In addition, the compromise sought to define the citizenship rights of free blacks.
Although the architects of the compromise aimed to eliminate political conflict over slavery, the debate engendered by Missouri's admission to the Union showed that slavery would continue to disrupt American politics. While the Missouri Compromise furthered the oppression of African Americans by spreading slavery to new territory, it also strengthened the support of whites in the North for an end to slavery's expansion, if not outright abolition; the North's commitment to free soil—land where slavery was outlawed—ultimately led that region to join in the struggle for emancipation and fight the Civil War in the 1860s.
The status of slavery in land acquired through the Louisiana Purchase had ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.